The Devotion Project: Love In All Its Forms
By Jerry Portwood
Pictured: John and Bill in their home in the film, "More Than Ever" / Photo by Nephi Nevin
So far filmmaker Antony Osso has presented five of his short films that comprise The Devotion Project, a series of short documentary films that show that LGBT couples come in all shapes, forms, and possibilities. While many of them have heavy messages, when he premieres the sixth, and final film, "Foremost on My Mind," he promises it will be a good time.
"It's the funniest and most light-hearted of them," he assures, describing the film about a middle-aged, African-American lesbian couple, Audrey Smaltz and Gail Marquis. "Audrey met Gail when she was 61 years old. She had never been a lesbian before, but she fell for her. She smoothly transitioned into being in love with a woman. Wow, who does that?"
Osso read the couple's wedding announcement in the newspaper, ripped it out and decided he must film their story. "I did a screening of the first five in Los Angeles and I heard someone say, 'Oh no, maybe there’s no chance for me, I’m already 38.' No, I don't want people to think that. So, I was looking for a couple that had met later, a late bloomer kind of story." This sixth film will have its world premiere February 13 at LGBT Community Center in New York City. All the films are available to watch on its YouTube channel.
It all started with a couple who had spent 54 years together: Titled "More Than Ever," it tells the story of John and Bill, two men who battled for their existence over the decades and carved out a life together. It's a heartwrenching thing to watch. "My friend had met them after they announced how long they had been together at a Justin Bond concert, and he escorted me to their place, and I fell in love with them."
Osso found other subjects—that range over topics of parenting, trans awareness, and monogamy—by word of mouth and says that it is his form of activism. "I was more comfortable with a camera, using film rather than marching," Osso explains, saying that the widely publicized rash of gay teen suicides did spur him to action. "I thought, Isn’t there enough out there to see that gives them a reason to stick it out through adolescence. And then I realized there wasn't."
Now that the sixth film is released he has a feature film that he plans to focus on. But he'll be forever changed by the time spent with the subjects of these six documentaries and the many other couples he interviewed. "The couples are shy at first," he explains, "then they realize they are helping people who may be struggling with what a same-sex couple looks like." And Osso hopes that The Devotion Project helps them see that there are many, many possibilties for love at all points in life.
Watch the first of the short docs, "More Than Ever" below: